Friday Highlights

Well, better late than never, eh?

  1. How is the US like an autocracy?
  2. Medical eRecords.
  3. Hypocrisy.
  4. Grass is not a “priority” … heh. Today its’ not … 30 years ago it was and now the priority is (perhaps) keeping the kids away from it.
  5. Maya.
  6. I guess while I was working and net-less … another shooting occurred. A question that will come up answered.
  7. A reaction to that.
  8. The fiscal cliff thang.
  9. No true Scotsman comes to ESPN.
  10. Bang tech.
  11. What too much safety net looks like.

7 Responses to Friday Highlights

  1. 6.I guess while I was working and net-less … another shooting occurred. A question that will come up answered.

    I’m skeptical of the ‘more guns’ idea as a solution. It’s flaw is the assumption that the shooters we hear about are the only shooters in the population. I don’t doubt for a moment that there are plenty of people who *would* start some crazy shooting spree but don’t because they simply don’t have any easily available guns and a as a result their mental illness works itself out in other ways besides media attention worthy shooting sprees.

    At this point someone will usually chime in with claims about how easy it is to just go down an ally and buy a gun. But it really isn’t. Unless you’re in a community or group where under the table dealers are well known or your parents have guns, or you’re able to walk into a store and buy serious weapons without any question, you’re not going to have an easy time buying an illicit gun. To belong to a gang requires some level of social skills that many of these lone shooters seem to lack.

    On the flip side, the eradication of guns is simply unworkable in American culture. The best that can be done is some sensible limits that make it difficult for people to buy guns are that esp. well suited for mass killings. I think the trick here is less about a blanket prohibition and more about a nudge.

    A more promising area IMO would be to expand and improve mental health screening and coverage. It does seem a disproportionate amount of these killers are young men in their twenties, living at home. Usually the type who people say don’t have to worry much about health coverage as they tend to be physically healthy. Granted it there’s that old saying about leading a horse to water but I think there’s some evidence the Co. movie shooter had been trying to seek some mental health treatment. Even if it stops a few shooters it would greatly help many people who are not on the verge of shooting anyone but do need aid.

  2. Boonton,

    I’m skeptical of the ‘more guns’ idea as a solution.

    I tend to agree. But less guns is also not a solution.

    A more promising area IMO would be to expand and improve mental health screening and coverage.

    Perhaps. I was thinking that earlier. Then I was recalling Ms Midgely and her book Wickedness … and that there is a (quite possibly wrong) notion to locate so many of our problems as illnesses and miss the notion that all evil is not illness.

  3. Evil is also not a cartoon character which embraces murder for the sake of murder, IMO. Most evil is done by people going about their everyday lives following everyday incentives and most evil ends up disguising itself by letting it’s agent assure themselves that they aren’t the type of person to go shooting up a school.

    While I accept that some mass killings may have simply been done out of evil (Tim McVeigh, for example), I suspect quite a few are more mundane mental illnesses.

    As for ‘less guns’, I think an answer is that it should be harder to acquire a gun that is highly efficient for mass killings. It’s disturbing that more and more of these rampage type killings are happening by people who not only have highly efficient weapons, but also extensive defense such as body armor, bulletproof vests etc. The MO here seems to be to target an exceptionally ordinary place and surprise it with overwhelming firepower. I’m not at all sure how to address such problems.

  4. Boonton,

    Evil is also not a cartoon character which embraces murder for the sake of murder, IMO.

    Straw man much? Who is saying that? Ms Midgely is not. I am not? Who?

  5. Boonton,

    As for ‘less guns’, I think an answer is that it should be harder to acquire a gun that is highly efficient for mass killings.

    Do you have any evidence that states in which it is harder to get guns have less such occurances than those in which it is easier?

  6. No but if such occurances are very rare to begin with you won’t be able to ever assemble such data. Imagine we wanted to know if there was some pattern between people who’ve won the lottery more than once (say a jackpot over $1M) and their gender. Since double lottery winners are pretty rare to begin with, it’s unlikely we could assemble a large enough population to ensure a good measure.

    But we could turn to modeling. It would be reasonable to assume the odds of winning the lottery twice depend on playing the lottery after you already won. If we look at people who won the big jackpot once, we could see if one gender is more likely to keep playing than the other. If so then that gender should be expected to show up more often as double winners….even if we haven’t yet had enough to observe the pattern directly.

    So let’s say an accurate model of these things is young men with either mental problems or some type of ‘issue’ is common. Only rarely, though, do the ‘stars’ line up just right to produce a mass killing. Hence a series of minor roadblocks to easily acquiring the tools for mass killings should produce fewer of them….even something as trivial as a 1 week waiting period on certain weapons might be just enough to trip up some of the socially inept to short circuit a kiling spree.

  7. Boonton,

    Only rarely, though, do the ‘stars’ line up just right to produce a mass killing. Hence a series of minor roadblocks to easily acquiring the tools for mass killings should produce fewer of them….even something as trivial as a 1 week waiting period on certain weapons might be just enough to trip up some of the socially inept to short circuit a kiling spree.

    So clearly States with such trivial block like a waiting period (like in Connecticut) would make a difference and you wouldn’t see things like this happening in, uhm, Connecticut. Recall the recent Colorado shooter spent weeks and/or months assembling his kit.

    So perhaps modeling isn’t going to do it. You’ve said yourself that gun laws are likely not the problem or the answer. I’ve agreed. Why are you going back to that well?

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